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Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, January 2, 2001

Hawaii’s travelers
should try our islands

HERE'S my year 2001 suggestion to some of our world travelers: Try Hawaii, too.

Europe, Asia, Down Under and other far away places are great. But each of Hawaii's islands has something special to offer. All are different. All are great. Getting there is easier. The cost is less.

It's hard to be from a neighbor island and not have visited Oahu. But a lot of travelers I know see too little of the Big Island's diverse attractions; Maui's resorts and its dramatic drives up Haleakala and to remote Hana; rustic Molokai; the posh resorts of Lanai or the greenery of Kauai.

Travel bargains often are available. They may combine air fare, a car and lodging for much less than the items would cost bought separately. Kamaaina or seasonal rates also should be checked.

The Star-Bulletin's editor from 1912 to 1960 was Riley H. Allen. His stock answer when asked which Hawaiian island he preferred was "the one I'm on at the time."

Even in 2001 you may find it true. The islands are so different and each so special. Except for Niihau, all have first-rate resort accommodations and welcome visitors. All also have fine bed and breakfasts.

Travel ads, travel agents and the Internet can facilitate working out an itinerary to one's taste and budget. The range of offerings is extensive.

Molokai, with our highest percentage of Hawaiian people, has a new two-story Molokai Ranch Lodge in Maunaloa town. From there or nearby, you can see the lights of Oahu.

Relatively tiny Lanai (now mostly businessman David Murdock's private island) has three stopping spots. Koele Lodge at the cool 1,500 foot level is widely considered one of the best resort hotels in the world. Its marbled sister at Manele Bay has surf and sand. The old Lanai Hotel in Lanai City has been upgraded and up-priced but still is cheaper than its sisters.

Oahu has accommodations primarily in Waikiki but also at Turtle Bay and the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore. On the dry Leeward coast, the Ihilani is a four-star resort, popular with golfers.

Maui choices include Wailea and adjacent Kihei with a wide range of accommodations, historic Lahaina town, the big Kaanapali resort to its north and Kapalua, also with a wide range of places to stay.

Away from the beach are chalet-style small Kula Lodge at the 3,000-foot level of Hale-akala and accommodations near the airport and in Hana.

Kauai has resort centers along its southern coast, primarily at Poipu. They also dot its east and north shores, where scenes for the "South Pacific" film were shot. Waimea Canyon is aptly called a little Grand Canyon. Nearby Mt. Waialeale is touted as the world's wettest spot.

The Big Island has its wet Hilo side and dry Kona side, with 13,000-foot Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes in between plus active Kilauea cresting at 4,000 feet.

Volcano House on the edge of Kilauea's major crater is a unique lodging that doesn't live up to its potential but still is a must-see.

My wife and I now make our Volcano area base a few miles downslope at Kilauea Lodge. It serves the best dinners for miles around, but breakfasts only for overnight guests.

Hilo on the rainy side of the Big Island has hotels on its bay that are now vastly outnumbered by resorts on the dry Kona side. Inland Kamuela at the northern end of the resort tier shares honors with Hilo as a base for the big telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

Try our neighbor islands. You may love them all.

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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